Fit to Leave but Stuck in Hospital for 9 Months

A disabled man has been left languishing in hospital nearly nine months after doctors gave him the all-clear – because the council can’t find him a home. Alastair Scott was told he was fit to leave Astley Ainsley Hospital in early November after recuperating there from a broken leg. His sister said she would care for the 47-year-old – who is wheelchair-bound and brain-damaged – but needed somewhere bigger than her two-bedroom flat.

Almost nine months later the council still haven’t been able to find them a suitable new home. They need somewhere with three bedrooms which can be converted to include a downstairs bathroom and bedroom.

The delay has raised renewed concerns about the effects of so-called bed-blocking at city hospitals. Mr Scott was admitted to Astley Ainsley when he “shattered” his leg in a fall after suffering a seizure. His sister, Janette Bambrick, 52, said she would take over from their 81-year-old mother Helen as his full-time carer.

But the privately-rented Stenhouse flat she shares with her 15-year-old daughter Charlene is too small and up a flight of stairs.

She said: “There is nowhere for him to go and he is just stagnating up there.

“I have noticed a big difference in him and so has his social worker. He can’t talk, but you can just see it in his face that he is wasting away.”

Ms Bambrick, a former hotel worker, said she could not afford a bigger house adapted to her brother’s needs without the council’s help. “I have applied for countless houses and have been told that they are unsuitable or that someone else has got them, despite the fact we are meant to be a priority.

“I want to get him home where he can sit in the garden in a chair like he used to. It would make such a difference.”

“The council is aware of our situation, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference.

“He should be top of their list – there can’t be hundreds of people who are lying in a hospital, blocking up a bed.”

There are 112 people stuck in hospital in Edinburgh waiting for suitable places to go, according to the latest figures from NHS Lothian. Concerted efforts by health and council chiefs has seen the number of so-called bed-blockers fall significantly in recent months.

The Tories’ health spokeswoman on the council, Kate MacKenzie, said: “Three-bedroom houses are at a premium but I can’t believe in a year that the council would not have been able to get something.

“I am surprised they haven’t managed to do something before now because I would have thought they would have pulled out all the stops to get him out of the hospital and into more comfortable surroundings.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “Mrs Bambrick’s case is one of several very complex hospital discharge cases that we are currently dealing with. We became involved in Mrs Bambrick’s case in November, 2005.

“Since that time, her case management officer has been in regular contact with her and our colleagues within Health and Social Care in order to identify suitable alternative accommodation for the family.

“The reality is that whilst the council is doing everything possible, there is an acute shortage of housing within the city that is either suitable or that can be adapted to meet the family’s identified housing needs.

“We will continue to work with Mrs Bambrick until suitable accommodation is found.”

Robert Aitken, general manager of Astley Ainslie Hospital, said that the hospital had been in regular contact with the council to discuss the situation. He said: “The patient concerned underwent orthopaedic rehabilitation at the hospital and this was satisfactorily completed in early November last year.

He added: “Although the patient has complex needs, he has made a full recovery from the injury which brought him into hospital and is fit to leave as soon as the necessary ongoing care requirements are in place.”